It's often said that the best camera for the job is the one you have with you. Since I am particularly terrible at remembering to take my DSLR with me on everyday outings, I'm often left to take images using my iPhone instead.
Thankfully, the camera on the iPhone is pretty darn awesome considering the size and weight, and so are the cameras on other types of phones too - mobile phone technology has come such as long way!
I do of course take a lot of just quick everyday random snaps with my iPhone - it's what it was designed for after all! But I do also like to challenge myself occasionally to take images in the same way as I would as if I had my DSLR, and shoot with more intent.
1) Set your Exposure & Focus
In case you didn't know, you can set your exposure for your phone just by tapping the area on the screen that you want to expose for. For example, if you were shooting into the sun and your subject is coming out too dark, you can tap on the screen to where your subject is and it will expose for there instead. Or you could expose for the sky and get more a silhouette type shot. This gives you much greater control of how your final image looks!
Left to it's own devices your camera will choose focus and exposure for the same place. In order to give you greater control, I recommend you find and download the Camera + App (there are other apps that do the same thing, but this is the one I know and use). This allows you to separate the focus and exposure - you tap on the screen where you want to expose for and tap again to bring up where to focus. Genius.
2) Get Plenty of Light
The camera on your iPhone has such a small sensor that it needs a lot of light to take an image and not have it turn out grainy or soft due to using a slow shutter speed. So, to begin with, I recommend shooting in an area with lots of light. It is perfectly feasible to shoot with single light sources, but be aware that your shutter speed will slow right down so you need to keep yourself very steady when shooting as not to introduce motion blur. In fact, it's very common for your phone to have motion blur - there's not a lot you can do about it apart from to move your subject close to a light source!
3) Look for pretty light!
As with all mediums of photography, the light is important when taking photos with your iPhone. Ideally, if you are shooting during the day move your subject into open shade so that there are no harsh shadows or bright spots in the image. Anywhere that has soft, diffused light is good! You can also use directional light (where light comes from the side) to add extra depth and dimension to your iPhone images.
4) Use Composition Tools
Composition is also incredibly important in mobile photography - using it well can mean the difference between a OK shot and a WOW one! Use the rule of thirds, negative space, leading lines, framing and so on to divide your frame and give a sense of of focus. The iPhone has a grid overlay feature that I recommend you turn on as it's really helpful when composing your images. If you use the Camera Awesome app you can choose from a rule of thirds, golden spiral or golden triangle grid. Fancy!
5) Change your perspective
One of the best things about the phone camera is how small the lens is. This means you can get this to go into smaller corners or lie flat on the ground, or even shoot through spaces you couldn't with a "normal" camera. Lie down on your belly or hold your phone high above you to mix up your angles. Since most phones will keep everything in the frame in focus, you don't need to worry too much about making sure your focal point is in the right place!
6) Edit your Photos
I still like to edit my iPhone photos, usually just with either the Instagram or Camera + app. This is mainly because white balance on indoors photos taken with an IPhone tend to be way off. However, their filters are a little strong for me, so since I also upload my iPhone photos to my photo drive using Lightroom, I will sometimes edit in there too - I think it's nice to give your mobile phone images the same care and attention you would give your other photos too! If you prefer just to edit in your phone, then two good apps are VSCO and Snapseed.
If you are used to shooting with a DSLR then shooting with a phone camera can seem quite limiting. And it is: when the final image is important to me, I'll choose my DSLR over my iPhone any day so I can get the shot exactly as I want it. However, there is a lot to be said about choosing purposely to shoot with your iPhone - it forces you to get creative and really think about light and perspectives, which can only be a good thing for your photography skills!